Classic Southern Pecan Pie is a favorite pie made with pecans that are baked in a syrupy filling.
One of our favorite things to watch on television are the black and white Andy Griffith shows with Andy, Barney, Opie and Aunt Bea that take place in the mythical town called Mayberry. The show focuses on strong family values, love of country and God and Southern culture.
Both my husband and I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time in real life Mayberrys. For me, Mayberry was Geneva, AL, the town where my parents grew up and both sets of grandparents lived. Mayberry for my husband was Carolina Community in Andalusia, AL where his father grew up in the house portrayed in the painting below. My sister-in-law, Vicki Garvin, photographed the painting and made copies for us. The old house was destroyed by fire several years ago.
My father-in-law, Mark Garvin, was one of 10 children born to Holly and Ruby Garvin. The family farmed and knew all the hardships that befell poor farming families in the rural South.
By the time I came around, Granddaddy Garvin (Holly) had died and Granny Garvin (Ruby) had dementia. Granny still lived in the house where she raised her family but she needed constant care which was lovingly provided by her youngest daughter, Beatrice, known as Bea. Aunt Bea’s a main character in the Garvin family just as Aunt Bea of Mayberry was in the Andy Griffith show.
Aunt Bea was typical of her generation. She had tireless energy and wasn’t the least bit afraid of hard work. She was an excellent cook and her dinner table would be filled with dishes that were typical of good ol’ fashioned Southern cooking. She was warm and welcoming and if you came in her house, she wanted to feed you.
I loved having conversations with her. She was always interested in everything you were doing. She and I would talk a lot about cooking and our favorite new recipes. It wasn’t hard to get her talking about stories of old. Coming from a large family, she never ran out of stories to tell. She kept track of all her nieces and nephews just as she did her siblings. In some regards, she became the family historian.
She was famous for her pecan pie. She would gather pecans from the pecan trees on the Garvin homestead. When I started collecting family recipes, numerous people reminded me to be sure and get Aunt Bea’s Pecan Pie recipe. Once you had Aunt Bea’s pie, it became your favorite. It sure made an impression on my husband. He’s talked about Bea’s pecan pie for as long as I’ve known him.
Aunt Bea has made her last pecan pie. Well into her seventies, she’s now dealing with her own dementia just as she dealt with her mother’s. Instead of her being the caretaker, she’s being cared for. Sometimes she recognizes people she’s known all her life. Sometimes she doesn’t. Time has stripped the life out of this once vibrant woman. She’s left her thumbprint on every person who’s ever had a slice of her pecan pie. And that’s a whole lot of people. We love you, Aunt Bea. We always will.
Author’s note: Aunt Bea has gone on to glory. We miss her terribly and hold cherished memories close.
Classic Southern Pecan Pie
preheat oven to 325 degrees
yield: one (9-inch) pie
Bea would divide the filling between two pie shells probably just trying to stretch it out as far she could. I’m sure that’s the way Granny Garvin made them, too. She would cook her pies on 275 degrees “for an hour or so”. I raised the temperature to 325 degrees to compensate for the larger amount of filling in the single pie. I sort of followed her instructions to “put the pie on the top rack”. I placed the rack higher than the center of the oven but didn’t go all the way to the top. I think my racks go higher than hers did. Her recipe didn’t indicate that the butter should be melted. I made that assumption. I increased the amount of pecans from 1 1/4 cup to 2 cups.
The filling in this pie maintains a lot of its syrupy character. That’s what appeals to my husband. He says he prefers Aunt Bea’s syrupy pecan pie to cakey pecan pies.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Karo syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups pecans, chopped
Add eggs to a large bowl and whisk.
Add sugar, Karo syrup, vanilla extract, and butter to bowl with eggs. Whisk until ingredients are well incorporated.
Scatter pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
Pour filling over pecans.
Sprinkle top with kosher salt.
Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for one hour or until center is set and barely jiggles when shaken. You don’t want it sloshy.
Cool completely before cutting.
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Classic Southern Pecan Pie
- 1 9-inch pie crust (unbaked)
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup Karo syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 cups pecans chopped
- kosher salt
- Add eggs to a large bowl and whisk.
- Add sugar, Karo syrup, vanilla extract, and butter to bowl with eggs. Whisk until ingredients are well incorporated.
- Scatter pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
- Pour filling over pecans.
- Sprinkle top with kosher salt.
- Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for one hour or until center is set and barely jiggles when shaken. You don't want it sloshy.
- Cool completely before cutting.